April 14, 2015 / 11:19 AM / 2 years ago

Japan PM adviser Hamada says dollar at Y120 acceptable

3 Min Read

A U.S. one-hundred dollar bill (C) and Japanese 10,000 yen notes are spread in Tokyo, in this February 28, 2013 picture illustration.Shohei Miyano

TOKYO (Reuters) - The yen is fairly valued around current levels, a key economic adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday, a day after comments he made were taken to mean the yen was too weak.

Koichi Hamada, an emeritus professor of economics at Yale University, also told Reuters he was not suggesting the Bank of Japan ease policy at its next meeting this month, in contrast to the recent views of another Abe adviser.

"120 yen per dollar is acceptable," Hamada said in an interview.

He was quoted on Monday as saying a 105 yen rate was acceptable, but sought on Tuesday to clarify that he had been referring to the purchasing power parity-implied rate, which is around 101 yen, not the spot market rate.

"If the PPP-implied rate is at 105 yen and the yen weakens to 125 yen or to 130 yen, then such a gap may invite speculators," Hamada said.

The yen fell on the comments, giving up some of its gains on his previous remarks. The dollar rose to 120.10 yen from 119.70 yen on his comments to Reuters before slipping back below 120 yen.

On monetary policy, Hamada remained open to further easing, but did not see this as a pressing issue.

"I would not oppose further easing on April 30, because inflation won't be generated even if the central bank eases again," he said. "But I would not on my own oppose the BOJ adopting monetary easing for now."

He said there was still room for the BOJ to ease further but that this did not necessarily mean the central bank should ease anytime soon.

Kozo Yamamoto, an Abe adviser and expert on monetary policy in the premier's party, told Reuters on April 1 that the BOJ must expand its asset purchases on April 30, given signs of slowdown in the economy and prices.

The central bank maintained its massive stimulus program last week and brushed aside speculation of near-term additional easing, even as inflation grinds to a halt far below the bank's targeted 2 percent.

Hamada said "core-core" CPI, which excludes energy and food prices, of around 1 percent would be reasonable. The latest data showed it was 0.3 percent in February, after stripping out the effect of last year's sales-tax hike.

If the BOJ should ease policy, a further short-term weakening "cannot be helped," Hamada said, adding that in that case, Japan could not be accused of engaging in a "currency war" or competitive valuation, as long as monetary policy was aimed at boosting the domestic economy, rather than targeting the exchange rate.

Editing by Clarence Fernandez and William Mallard

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